Manual healing and physical touch are complementary and alternative therapies relate to touching, manipulation, or movement of the body. It has long been established that physical touch is essential to young children’s growth and development, but there is increasing evidence that it may be helpful for adults fighting serious disease, as well. According to Integrative Cancer Therapies, a recent study of 230 cancer patients showed that massage and other therapeutic touch with standard care was more effective at reducing pain, mood disturbance, and fatigue than standard care and doctor’s presence alone.
Massage is perhaps the most familiar of these techniques. Though there are many types of massage, proponents claim that it can help relieve pain, promote relaxation, improve blood circulation, and increase flexibility and coordination. While simple touch is beneficial, according the the Annals of Internal Medicine, a 2008 clinical trial found that massage therapy had a more pronounced short-term effect on pain and mood in advanced cancer patients than simple touch.
Other Forms of Manual Healing
Manual and touch therapy is not limited to massage. Practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine may apply heat, light, magnets, herbs, oils, or even electricity to the body. However, the American Cancer Society strongly emphasizes the importance of talking with a physician before beginning any type of alternative therapy. It is important to ensure that these therapies will not counteract or aggravate side effects of standard treatments like radiation and chemotherapy.